Mysterious rash prompts move of addictions services

Eastern Health has decided to move some of its addictions services from Pleasantville to the Waterford Hospital.
Vicki Kaminski, CEO of Eastern Health, says there will be air quality testing done at therecovery centre in Pleasantville. Until then, addicions services will be moved to the Waterford Hospital. (CBC)

Eastern Health has decided to move some of its addictions services from a building in the Pleasantville area of St. John's to the Waterford Hospital.

The motivation behind the move is a mysterious rash that may be linked to chemical vapours reported by some staff at the recovery centre.

The chemical in question, creosote, was used to preserve the wood during construction of the building more than 50 years ago.

Vicki Kaminski, the CEO of Eastern Health, said officials have decided to play it safe and wait for the results rather than try to work around the cause.

"We have had a couple of staff who have gone off with a rash that we can't explain," Kaminski said.

"We have other staff who have noticed more creosote vapour than they had in the past."

The health authority said employees had been reporting rashes over the last six months.

To ensure the safety of staff and patients, the air is being tested; however, the results aren't expected back until early in the new year.

The move will mean there will be fewer beds available for addictions services.

"The utilization in December isn't always high," Kaminski said. "It's been fairly low over the past years, so we're confident that the nine or ten beds that we're setting up will make do for December."